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Episode 212: Night in the Woods

Mumblecore playdates with a tinge of existential, cosmic dread. That's a succinct summation of Night in the Woods, the capstone for our indie horror month. This is a beautiful, charming game that goes to great lengths to endear you to its cast. It sensitively and deftly portrays issues of mental illness, poverty, and faith. We just wish it didn't have structural problems, because they result in the game hiding its light under a bushel. Let me hang with Germ Warfare, please!


Episode 211: Micro-Horror Special

As we continue Indie Horror Month, we're excited to do something a little different. There are so many great little experimental horror games that wouldn't bear a full episode, but are worth talking about. So we gathered up a bunch of micro-horror games and created a special episode about them. They are: IMSCARED Haunted Cities, vol. 1 and vol. 2 Lost Constellation My Father's Long Long Legs And that's all. Don't stick around to the end of the episode because there's nothing more. Nosiree.


Episode 210: Penumbra: Overture

You can run and you can hide... and not much else. That's something Frictional learned in making Penumbra: Overture, a strange predecessor to their more widely acclaimed Amnesia: The Dark Descent. You play as Phillip, a professor who follows in the footsteps of his presumed-dead father and ends up in a heap of trouble in an Arctic mine. Come hear what makes this strange indie horror game so foundational to modern horror games.


Listener Responses: September 2018 (Auteur Adventure Games)

Let's hear your responses to Quest for Glory II, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, and not Gabriel Knight 3!


Episode 209: Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned

We love the Gabriel Knight series, but Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned is the kind of game only a parent could love. It follows Knight's adventures in France as he tries to solve a kidnapping case that involves the Holy Grail and a set of vampires called "The Night Visitors". What makes Gabriel Knight 3 such a dicey proposition to play is its questionable presentation. Sierra forced Jane Jensen and her team to make the game fully 3D, which they were neither equipped to accomplish,...


Episode 208: Callahan's Crosstime Saloon

Callahan's Place is a very special bar, where flawed people from across space and time gather to share their pain and be healed. This makes for a very strange basis for a video game, but Legend managed to pull it off. Though the puzzles aren't always great, Callahan's skates by with a lot by being laugh-out-loud hilarious and unusually humane. Seriously, this is wayyy up there.


Episode 207: Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire

This month's theme is "Auteur Adventure Games", and we decided to open it with a beloved game by Corey and Lori Ann Cole. Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire continues our hero's journey as he heads to the Arabian-inspired realm of Shapeir. The Coles had a specific vision for how to combine adventure games and role playing, and also had a very specific kind of light and humorous voice. Large parts of this game are a mess, but it's a very interesting specimen to look at closely.


Listener Responses: August 2018 (NieR and God of War)

Four episodes, two hacky slashy games, lots of thoughts. It's time to hear your responses to God of War and NieR! Also, we announce the upcoming games. September sees Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, and Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned. October is Indie horror month... There's a patron poll for the first episode, the second episode will be a special about Micro Horror games, and the final episode is about Night in the Woods.


Episode 206: God of War (2005)

It's inarguable that God of War is an important game, but is it still fun to play? No, not really, but it has its moments. It came late in the PS2 lifecycle and took inspiration from character action games like Devil May Cry, but it added a sense of brutality that launched a fleet of clones. The problem is, the God of War you remember didn't start wtih the first game. No, it became the setpiece-heavy boss-a-thon with God of War II. The original features far more hallways, and almost no...


Episode 205: NieR (Part 3)

This episode concludes our coverage of NieR, as we talk about the endgame of Route A, and cover everything from Routes B, C, and D. NieR has thoroughly worn out its welcome at this point, even if there is some good stuff to be found in the tricks it plays. So come listen, and hear the specifics of our criticisms.


Episode 204: NieR (Part 2)

The story of NieR continues as we build out our party and explore more modes of play. The doldrums of the previous episode give way to some minor delight. The Forest of Myth shows us a text adventure with a cool conceptual hook, while the Haunted Manor is a Resident Evil pastiche. Then we have to do it all again. This episode covers NieR up through the Forest of Myth, after the time jump.


Episode 203: NieR (Part 1)

Take a look, it's in a book. NieR released with a resounding thud in 2010, neither selling well nor pleasing critics. But since then, it's become a cult classic for people who like experimental narrative and varied play. Nier is a father who is desperately searching for a cure for his daughter's terminal illness. Yonah has the Black Scrawl, and a prophecy about a pair of magical books might be her salvation. The problem is, the game isn't very fun to play, and while there is some really neat...


Listener Responses: July 2018 (The Sims 3, Donkey Kong '94, Pathologic)

What do you think of The Sims 3, Donkey Kong '94, and Pathologic? Tune in to find out! Includes bonus responses for Earth Defense Force 4.1.


Episode 202: Pathologic

It's the best, most fascinating game you should never play. Pathologic is the definition of a cult classic game. Its adherents will swear by it, while everyone else bounces off. There's a good reason for that: it's one of the best-written games we've covered for the show, and every mechanic is designed to be as unfriendly as possible. For this episode, we follow the Bachelor's route. Daniil Dankovsky is a thanatologist, one who studies death. He's called to a mysterious village on the...


Episode 201: Donkey Kong '94

This is a special live episode about the best Donkey Kong game, Donkey Kong for the Game Boy. The game begins as a faithful recreation of the Donkey Kong arcade levels, but after that, the roof flies off and the walls fall away... revealing a puzzle platformer with over 100 levels. This game also expands Mario's move set in an important way. Really? Just go play it. Huge thanks to everyone who came out to see us at the Midwest Gaming Classic 2018!


Episode 200: The Sims 3

Do you think life is a game? The Sims, writ large, is a massive series that nobody really talks about as a game. It feels like it exists over in a separate category with MMOs and other perpetual games. But its huge success has hidden the fact that it's incredibly important, and also very very fun. We specifically picked the Sims 3 because of its quality of life improvements, but this episode touches on all of the main Sims games at least a little bit. This episode is very different from our...


Listener Responses: June 2018 (Better Together)

Let's hear what you think of A Way Out, Magicka, and Earth Defense Force 4.1. There aren't very many responses this time, so we hit some belated responses and Just Funnin' as well.


Episode 199: Earth Defense Force 4.1

This game really bugs us. Listen in to find out why... or read this short summary. Earth Defense Force as a series gets a lot of credit for its quirkiness and cheesiness. That praise is earned, but it doesn't paper over repetitive and mediocre gameplay. The Ravagers are back again, and they've brought Giant Insects, spiders, lizards, and all kinds of nasties with them. It's up to the united Earth Defense Force to fight them off, once and for all. Over and over again. With very little...


Episode 198: Magicka

This week, Gary and Kole conjure up some mixed praise for Magicka, a student project turned indie darling. But here's the hangup: while the core idea of this game is unlike anything we've seen before, its execution falls flat at almost every turn. The writing and humor don't add much to the proceedings, and the game is still a technical mess seven years after its release. So, yeah, the mixture leans pretty heavily toward the negative. Someone make a better game out of this core idea!


Episode 197: A Way Out

Ain't no co-op like A Way Out co-op because A Way Out co-op is mandatory. Back in 2013, Hazelight Studios developed a charming and affecting experimental adventure game called Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Five years later, it wanted to continue exploring its pet theme of togetherness, so it created A Way Out. Following the lead of games like Heavy Rain and Until Dawn, it's a cinematic adventure game with one major gimmick: you must play it with someone else. The story is told in...